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Technology diary — April 8 and 9, 2024

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Technology diary — April 8 and 9, 2024

The television of the 1970s, marveled at in 2024

We live in Scotland in a wooden cottage of about eight square meters that contains a television. “That wouldn’t have been possible before, a tube TV wouldn’t have fit in there,” I say. Aleks says: “We can watch TV there tonight!” Because that doesn’t work in his apartment. I laugh at the absurd idea, but then we actually spend the evening watching a recording of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.

It’s all very fascinating. Every song is accompanied by a live orchestra. The orchestra is always the same, but a conductor from the respective country comes in for each song. When points are awarded, the result is displayed on a wall with page turning numbers for each country. If the person turning the page (not in the picture) makes a mistake, they have to leaf through all the numbers from 0-9 once to get back to the correct one. This sometimes leads to confusing sights.


Here Ireland has just 90 points due to a page turning error and is therefore way ahead of ABBA. But only very briefly. (Screenshot from a YouTube video that won’t exist long enough for a link, but a recording of the ESC 1974 will probably be easy to find even after this video disappears.)

The camera work is awkward and jerky, but I can’t tell whether this is due to individual clumsiness or whether camera tripods were extremely stiff in the 1970s.

On the second evening we watch an episode of the 70s series “The Six Million Dollar Man”, which until then we both only knew by name. Lee Majors is a cyborg with various implants after an accident. He can run very fast, which is represented by him running in slow motion. At first I speculate that maybe time-lapse photography didn’t exist back then, but then there’s a short time-lapse sequence, so it must have worked. The reason for the slow motion display remains unclear.

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There is a camera with zoom built into Lee Majors’ eye, which you can tell by the fact that a rectangular focusing box appears in the image like… I actually don’t know what this image refers to. Cameras from back then? Film cameras? When Majors focuses the camera’s eye on his surroundings, he can immediately identify which vehicle left these characteristic marks. But this doesn’t happen by showing this information in the eye view like in the bar scene at the beginning of “Terminator 2”, but rather he has to say this information out loud for us watching: “Aha! Traces of a so-and-so vehicle!” This is probably because monitors don’t really exist yet. So you would have to show what Majors recognizes printed out on continuous paper and have a printer in your head, which was too stupid even for the developers of this series.

Then someone enters a military facility to get all the data on missing vehicles or surface-to-air missiles: “We’ll use a computer!” he announces importantly. You don’t see this computer at work, at least not in a way that we can recognize. Lights flash on a cabinet, then a person announces the result.

Lee Major’s implants don’t include any that are used for communication. When he communicates with his colleagues, he has to use a radio. You can’t see where he keeps this radio when it’s not in use. Maybe the bionic body contains a practical cupboard somewhere.

Immediately after the end of this (short, but extended episode with lots of commercial breaks) the exact same episode comes again. Maybe it runs all day. That would be similar to streaming.

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On the third evening we see another episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man”, but this time there is less technology. Plus, the appeal of 70s television has worn off. We still watch a British dog trainer training dogs, but it’s almost exactly like YouTube, only more boring. We then leave the wooden television cabin again.

(Kathrin Passig)

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